Archive for January 2017
Back to a gloomy January day in the UK. Our first weekend home after the holidays really made us feel at home. Grey skies and seemingly endless drizzle. Well not totally endless as it did stop for a couple of hours allowing a quick dart up the Cats Back ridge in the Black Mountains with TBF
The weather changed pretty quickly from gloomy to a rather impressive interlude of watery sunshine and above the cloud effects
Any walk of this local ridge is a fine one, being one of the very few narrow (ish) ridges in south Wales. We were lucky to catch such an atmospheric interlude
As we reached the summit of Black Hill the lower cloud was starting to dissipate and the blue skies were being replaced by gloom again. We had thought of extending the walk but it looked rain was heading back so we did as well
It may have been a short walk but it was a nice one all the same to liven up a typical January weekend
Sandwiched around our New Years Day outing were a couple of days spent in/on/near water. We’d booked onto a boat trip to go sail along the coast, spot dolphins and swim in the sea. Our vessel was the “Flipper Uno” recommended by the Funsters as great day out from last year. We were scheduled for New Years Eve and duly headed down to the harbour. Alas the strong winds caused them to cancel the trip so we were at something of a loose end.
We decided a day by the pool was in order and we went to the Oasis complex in Los Gigantes.
Despite being extraordinarily windy we had rather a nice day.
We found as sheltered a spot as we could and the pool area is really rather classy with an infinity style view at one end and overlooked by the famous cliffs at the other
We had a few swims and a nice lunch and plenty of lazing around
TBF enjoyed her swims as did I
TJF enjoyed lazing in the sun
TJS looked a little underwhelmed by the whole experience
They fitted us in for a another trip on our last day. Here is our chosen vessel
The weather was grand and the views from the boat were mighty fine. A different perspective from out at sea
Alas the dolphins were a little shy. The Funsters assured us they were jumping and swimming along with the boat last year. We saw a couple of lazy looking specimens that did nothing much before vanishing beneath the waves. That’s the natural world for you, can’t be relied upon to put on a show!
The boat headed back to Masca Bay (where our gorge walk ended last year) for lunch and a swim. It’s a really spectacular spot
We were encouraged to swim and take a leap off the rope swing. I’m pretty pleased with my efforts swinging out the furthest, as several people made a complete hash of it. No photos of my success but you get the idea from this random small boy
It was fantastic swimming near to the cliffs in fairly bouncy, deep, clear water, a memorable experience
One of the crew made amends for the limited dolphin views by letting the gulls take food from his mouth. Actually pretty impressive and I wouldn’t do it. The gulls must know the timing as they were all gathered waiting for a feed
The ride back home along the cliffs was equally spectacular
In truth the whole thing was just too tacky for me – all pirate costumes and cheesy music – but it was fun and a nice family way to end the holiday. As a finale we took a visit to the natural rock swimming pool for a dip and to watch the waves bouncing
Even though the water was swirling wildly you could still see shoals of fish hugging the rocks. I like this spot as well
There are some video clips of the waves in the slide-show
So the end of our winter sun trip and something that I’ll be reluctant to give up now. A combination of warm sunshine, swimming, walking and the avoidance of all things Xmas is an irresistible combination for me.
We didn’t really celebrate New Years Eve, not really our sort of thing. A quiet night in although TBF and TJS stayed up to watch the fireworks (put on by local hotels) from our balcony.
I thought New Years Day would be good for an outing, assuming many others woukld be recovering from the excesses from the night before. We’d never been to the NE corner, the Anaga Pensinsula so I though we ought to put that right. The nice thing about Tenerife is its diminutive size so it only took an hour to drive from one end to the other.
I’d read that the Anaga is rather splendid and so it proved. I asked TJS to take us to some obvious spot to get our bearings and he chose Mirador Pico del Ingles
It was breathtaking and the weather crystal clear. The views were just stunning. There seemed be one long central ridge where the road runs with several deep ravines carved on either side and numerous small villages perched impossibly on the sides
There was a wonderful covering of forest in complete contrast to the barren moonscape on El Teide (seen in the haze below)
It was wonderful and breathtaking vista and the whole area just begged to be explored
We only had one day so options were limited. We headed down to Taborno on the northern side figuring we had a better chance of avoiding the very keen wind. The views from the village were equally stunning. Alas my camera had reset itself to minimum size and resolution so the photos are reduced in size and not the best quality but I think you can still see the majesty of the place
The gorges plummet down to the glittering sea. Everywhere we could see paths snaking down to distant headlands and beaches. The walking in these parts looks superb although hard work as everything is either steep up or steep down
We had our picnic in the deserted village square by the church. A few laughs watching TBF chase our litter around in the wind
We took a short stroll out towards the pointed spire of Roque de Taborno
The slopes were especially good for lizards and we saw several scuttling about including some decent sized specimens
There is a path that completely encircles the base and is supposedly pretty spectacular and exposed. We were limited by time so just too an amble out to take a decent close up
I even managed to get the kids to pose for a photo
We took an alternative unsigned path on the way back that was pretty vertiginous in its own right. I was a glorious walk, only about an hour but as enjoyable as any I’ve done on Tenerife. The clear weather and contrast in colours was memorable.
Walking needs satisfied we finished the day off at the beach. We plunged down a ravine that emerged straight on to Playa de las Teresitas, one of Tenerife’s finest beaches
Its a strand of golden sand, unusual in Tenerife and I’m pretty sure the sand is imported from the Sahara. The beach is protected by a large breakwater and is perfect for families with gentle slopes into a calm sea. There was added interest from the ships berthed off shore and the para-gliders circling above. I liked this place a lot
Me and TJS took a wander to the end of the breakwater from where there was a splendid vista back across the beach
We spent a happy couple of hours wandering up and down. As it was late in the day the beach had enough people to feel welcoming without being in any way crowded
The setting of the sun behind the headland told us it was time to go
This is how New Years Day should be spent. No idea what the weather was like back home and frankly I didn’t care! 🙂
It was time for a leisurely day out and we went to the north coast on the assumption it might be sheltered from the wind. We went first to Garachico, which is a lovely town. Its been rebuilt over the past couple of hundred years having been all but wiped off the map by a volcanic eruption and lava flow.
Those lava flows reached the sea and created some deep channels and pools full of crystal clear water. When we came last year we couldn’t get close as the waves were too big and scary. This year whilst still large we could take a closer look.
As you can see it was still pretty wild and the water was charging up and down the channels in a most impressive fashion. You see pictures of people swimming in these channels but I can’t imagine it ever being safe
There are some deep pools that are sheltered from the waves and they did look very clear and inviting (had it not been for a sanitary towel floating in one!). The crabs seemed to like it here though
The whole area is criss-crossed by concrete walkways making for a very entertaining amble with the added risk of the odd soaking from an occasional larger wave
I waited for ages to see if the family would get such a soaking but circumstances wouldn’t oblige
The old harbour has been splendidly restored and they have put exercise machines out. The juniors posed for me after some pressure. I would have had a go but I have a bad knee
We wandered into town and had a marvellous lunch in an excellent and exceedingly friendly restaurant on the town square. Goat and fresh fish was the order of the day
To fill the afternoon we thought we’d take a look at Puerto de la Cruz (PDLC), the original Tenerife holiday resort. We parked up by the western beach and walked along the shore, through town and back to get a feel for the place. The waves looked a bit scary so we declined a swim
Next to the beach was a huge area of piled stones, several hundred of them, all together, impressive and surreal in equal measure
The waves were mighty and judging by the efforts to block them and the obvious damage they still cause is testament to the power of the Atlantic swell
We wandered past the harbour into the busy heart of town
We wanted to take a look at the Lago Martianez, a huge complex of swimming pools that appears on every image of PDLC. It occupies all of the headland to the left of the hotel in the photo below and I have to say it looked pretty impressive and is probably worth a day out
PDLC also has some fine views direct to the summit of El Teide (you can’t see it from the west and south coast)
Apart from that and whilst we did enjoy our afternoon we weren’t all that taken with PDLC. It looks dated with lots of high rise from the 70’s and its loud, brash and a little tacky. I think it needs some serious money spending to bring back to life. The north coast is stunning but I think I’d choose to stay elsewhere
TJS had spotted a possible educational outing in Tenerife. The Funsters headed off by bus to spend a day on (or rather not on) the windy beach and me and the other sherpa headed back up to the high mountains. Before the planned activity we had time for a short walk before lunch
The guidebook mentioned a short walk that could be fitted in while waiting for a bus. It suited both my infirm knee and our limited time but up here even the shortest walk delivers.
It was a round of an old volcanic cone called Alto de Guamasa and it was sensational. Its perched high above the steep forested northern slopes and the views were awesome. A snowy El Teide on one side
This short was to shown people back home there was enough snow to ski on (many people were sledging on body boards!)
On the other side were spectacular views down to the north coast
The scenery was ever changing as the path completely circled the cone. Bare lava slopes of various hues, forests and El Teide always dominating
Only took an hour but another classic walk
After a brief lunch we were off to our main destination. TJS is planning on doing Astrophysics at University and when he saw that they did organised tours of the Observatory up here, well, he was rather keen
Its perched up at just shy of 2400 metres which probably explains why he looks so cold, seeing as it was just that, very cold in fact.
It has a whole range of telescopes and technology. Its primary function is as a solar observatory (the three big towers above) one of the top 3 in the world (the others are in Hawaii and Chile)
The best location for such things are oceanic islands with high mountains. When observing the sun the main challenge is local ambient heat. The ocean acts as some kind of thermal barrier that minimises the effect of localised and of course being high up in clear atmosphere helps a lot. Even the plants that grow up here help
Photo below shows a whole host of other technology (Gran Canaria in the background), one of which is a microwave telescope looking for the origins of the universe and the big bang and part managed by Manchester University where TJS hopes he might one day end up
Here we got look at the Electromagnetic image of the sun. There were no sunspots to see but you could see solar flares which was impressive
Of course from up here the views of the island were also damned fine
The two guys who did the tour were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and good humoured. I would have liked to have seen inside one of the solar telescopes but we did get to see one of their older reflective telescopes up close. They also did an audio visual presentation that was way better than any planetarium show I’ve ever seen
Needless to say TJS was in his element. Much of what was said went over my head a bit but like TJS I could see it would be damned fine place to work. Much better than being a Project Manager for an Mobile Phone company
On the way down we had to wait in traffic but in a spot where the views back to El Teide and the Roques de Garcia was superb in the late afternoon light. Two identical pictures, one taken with my phone one with my DSLR. Pretty hard to tell the difference!
Superb day out, something completely different and educational that I hope has inspired TJS still further to continue his hard work at college. Hopefully I can come visit when he works here!
In between Xmas and the unsuccessful attempt on El Teide was Boxing Day. Despite it being a very hazy day (more of the sand and dust in the air blown in from the Sahara) me and TJS wanted to do a walk. We agreed that the Funsters would drop us off we’d walk down to the coast to meet them. The drive was an event in itself. The road through the mountains of NW Tenerife is narrow with some seriously scary drops and busy with traffic. There are plenty of “whoaa!” moments as traffic bears down on you on one side and empty space with the sea below on the other.
Once we arrived at the start I was glad to revert to foot travel and the route while hazy looked good and so it turned out
The col was busy with tourists but 5 mins and we were alone. The route was quite superb. The path twisted through a verdant green of trees, shrubs and cacti, switching from the ridge and across to slopes on either sides
The target was the summit of Baracan (just left of centre in the photo below) at just over 1000m. I should point out that we started at around 800m so effort was minimal!
In places the path was spectacularly perched above the deep ravines that slice through this dramatic section of mountains
The views any further than a mile or so were vague and hazy so it was the local sights that held the eye.
This is looking back to the road and the pass where we started from
The diversity of flora was amazing, prickly pear being very common (one of the heaviest plants where it grows out of control and almost impossible to eradicate once its established)
After the summit we began to descend towards the coast, the landscape very reminiscent of Provence
We emerged from a short patch of very dark, dense and cool forest to this spot with red rocks and soil. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the stark colour contrast
We dropped to the sleepy little village of Teno Alto and the scenery suddenly changed to one of rural pastures
Another one of those stunning contrasts that Tenerife is able to deliver
We then dropped through a steeper section of terraced farmland perched on the side of the Barranco de las Cuevas.
And then suddenly the coast appeared where the farmland tumbles over 1000 feet of jagged cliffs and gorges down to the sea
The path did the same dropping in a series of endless switchbacks with the heat increasing as we went down
The path hit the road at this huge banana plantation or more accurately, production facility. Bananas are big business in Tenerife. Unfortunately
By the time we reached the road my knees were shattered by over 1000m of descent and were further hammered by a mile walk along the baking tarmac to the car park. We met the funsters and had a much deserved picnic on the lava above the sea and amongst the flowering prickly pear
There is small rather untidy and scrubby little harbour where its calm enough for a swim. The beach is never going to win any awards but the water is spectacularly clear. I went for a snorkel and had one 0f the best experiences I’ve ever had outside a coral reef. The waters were teeming with colourful fish, crabs, sea slugs, urchins etc. Alas I’d forgotten my waterproof camera. The water was also refreshingly cool after a hot days walking
We took a small stroll around the headland before we headed home
The views were still rather smoky and dusty but with lowering sun still impressive and atmospheric
One of the very best walks I’ve done in Tenerife, followed by an excellent snorkel and walk in one of my favourite places. Not a bad Boxing Day
After our first full day we had some rain! Mostly overnight and into the morning letting us have a lie in. The best thing about a winter sun holiday here is that spells of bad weather never last long and it was sunny by lunchtime. Time to spend a few hours lazing by and swimming in the pool
And nice sunset to end the day
Xmas Eve saw TBF and TJS head off for a walk leaving me and TJF to spend some quality father-daughter time together. We walked down into Los Gigantes (via a set of steps that went almost to the beach then suddenly stopped in the middle of waste ground so we had climb back to the top again) and paid a visit to the natural rock swimming pool.
Its perfect for a swim and has the added excitement of large Atlantic waves that break over the retaining wall turning the pool fizzy for a few seconds
Needless to say I had a swim to peer over the wall. Rather intimidating on day like this when the swell was rather large but perfectly safe (although there is no way I would I have stood on the slippery wall to dive in. Fall the other way and you’d be in very big trouble)
It was rather good to just stand in the pool and let the waves break over you
I was well chuffed with this photo. Just catching it perfectly with the breaking wave and three synchronised divers.
The views of the coast weren’t half bad either
We had a very nice lunch together and followed that with me accompanying TJF to do some shopping. I hung around outside with my wallet primed while she shopped, occasionally trying on silly hats to try and embarrass her. After another rolling of eyes I slipped away to take a look at the cliffs from the small town beach. It was a great day as we don’t very often spend time together just the two of us
Christmas Day and unlike last year we managed a swim. It was a bit breezy and cool but plenty warm enough for a swim on the beach at Playa de las Americas
Much better than spending all day cooking, watching TV and the rain outside. Another fine sunset before an improvised Christmas dinner that did involve poultry and roast potatoes. I even thought I’d managed to find some pigs in blankets. However what I thought were sausages wrapped in bacon turned out to be dates! I tried to pretend they were nice but they were pretty gross. Some kind of Tapas it seems. Dates in Blankets, who’d have thought
A couple of days later I dropped TJS and TBF off so they could climb El Teide, staying at the hut as last year. There was loads of snow and all was set for a successful ascent. However TJS came down with a bad case of altitude sickness (the hut is at 3200m) and they had to head down without reaching the summit. Me and TJF headed to the beach but it was so windy we couldn’t get near it without being sand-blasted. We did get some nice views of the snowy mountains on the way down by way of compensation
I had to pick up the weary climbers the next morning so we had the afternoon for another walk into Los Gigantes and more shopping
And, to finish off this post, yet another glorious sunset
More walking adventures to come